By: Celia Kwan
After 16 years of cooking experience, Chef Harrison Hennick has decided to open his own restaurant along with co-owners Ryan Tracey and Gabby Gwyn-Neumann.
Their contemporary Canadian restaurant, Nique, is set to open on Oct. 21, at James and Vine.
“Canada is a bit of a mosaic culture and the menu kind of represents that – internationally inspired, using locally fresh products whenever possible, trying to represent all of that in the menu,” explained Tracey.
“We like to take traditional foods from these cultures, not fuse them but shine a light on what those cultural foods are and serve them in our way, putting them in a Canadian presentation [while being] very specific to that cuisine,” said Hennick.
Already a signature, the dish that best previews what’s to come is their sushi nachos.
Made up of wonton chips, fresh Ahi tuna, puffed rice, pickled jalapenos, avocado, pickled red chillies, tobiko (flying fish roe), furikake (Japanese seasoning), scallions, spicy mayo and pickled ginger, this dish is essentially a tuna maki (rolled tuna sushi) on nachos.
Not only does Nique’s menu showcase the mosaic of Canadian culture, but also represents Hennick’s story. Instead of thinking about current food trends, Hennick cooks from his heart, and looks to the people who have inspired the development of his craft.
“[The menu] is a direct reflection of places I have travelled and… people I’ve worked for that have had impact on my life; there is always a dish or a sauce that has stuck with me and [the menu] is almost an homage and tribute to the people I’ve trained with and places I have worked at,” Hennick explained.
The unorthodox name plays on the word “unique”, the name of the restaurant is a derivative of Hennick’s last name. For him, his restaurant is a tribute to his father and to his family, while also evoking Hennick’s personal attitude towards food and culture.
“[It is] something very approachable, not pretentious, just a cool place that speaks to our style and our vibe,” explained Hennick.
The restaurant has a laid-back vibe, with lights and paint cans suspended from the ceiling, a mural featuring Hamilton street art, picnic-style tables, and a sign from Hennick’s mother that says “Welcome to our beginning”.
The eclectic but sophisticated space is able to maintain a comfortable, welcoming vibe. Hennick’s belief is that his restaurant is about being a family and providing a personable experience for diners, and the space really captures that spirit.
Currently, the owners of Nique are coming off of their initial wave of open houses and previews before their grand opening date.
They are excited to be part of the warm Hamilton community, but are also looking forward to being a part of the McMaster community.
“We’re hoping that the McMaster community will gravitate to be here; we want [students] here, we want to support [them] and we want to do what we can to be part of the McMaster community as well.”